– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Top-Shelf Components Coming to Japanese MX Bikes

Although Japanese MX bikes invariably win the motocross “shoot-outs” published by various magazines here in the United States, it is the European bikes (particularly, the KTM motocross bikes) that come stock with all the best, after-market components. Aluminum bars, hydraulic clutch, adjustable bar mounts, premium grade chain, etc. You get the idea.

Honda may be starting a trend with its 2004 motocross bikes, however, which will feature stock, oversize Renthal aluminum bars. This is a decided break from tradition, which dictates that stock Japanese motocrossers feature nearly worthless, soft steel bars. Could this open the flood gates to other Japanese manufacturers’ use of high-end components, like KTM?

On the other hand, this could just be Honda’s response to Yamaha’s dramatic increase in off-road market share over the past several years. Gaining back the market share lost while Honda watched Yamaha develop modern four-stroke machinery will take product differentiation that goes beyond the traditional “more horsepower and less weight” formula. Offering high-end componentry on a stock machine adds value without a corresponding increase in price (Honda’s cost per Renthal bar, when it buys them by the thousands, is a little less than yours).

Whatever the reason, we applaud Honda for offering quality handlebars on a stock machine — acknowledging that the stock handlebars are routinely thrown away by knowledgeable customers (often, before the bike is even ridden). Let’s hope other manufacturers follow suit.

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